Part 1: My grandparents, Yani and Grampie, said the telegram from my mother was very short: “Please send Christopher.” I was in Pittsburgh, 7 years old. Mom was in Oakland. So Yani and Grampie bought me a suit, packed a small bag with my things, and sent me on a TWA jet to San Francisco. It was the last time I would ever see Grampie after 7 years together. I still adore him.
The family history is silent about how mom got from her insane asylum, as it was called in the day, to Oakland. All we know is she drove an old Ford.
Mom was a beauty who married a naval officer, got her Master’s degree from Cornell, and had her dream job in cancer research before schizophrenia set in around age 35. That was when she became pregnant with me. Mom left dad and moved in with her parents.
Mom’s illness became serious enough she had to be confined in the asylum in Sayre, PA. We visited her every Saturday and I thought she was the most wonderful person in the whole world.